For the Love of God, Entrepreneurs, Just Keep It Simple

Here’s how I fight my biggest weakness: Complexity

Joe Procopio

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Photo by Michal Matlon on Unsplash

After all these years as a successful (sometimes) entrepreneur, do you want to know what I still struggle with the most?

I can’t keep it simple. Ever. I break this cardinal rule of business constantly, without remorse. Whether it’s my posts or my emails or my plans or my experiments, it takes every bit of restraint I have not to write manifestos or to build the kinds of systems that would make Rube Goldberg wince.

Even with all the hindsight gained from my previous mistakes, I’m still perpetually forced into multiple cycles of editing just to remove all the unnecessary garbage from my plans and my communications. It takes me three times as long to get from 2,000 words down to 750 words than it does to spill out the original 2,000 words.

I have a really hard time getting to the point. And as an entrepreneur, it’s the most damaging thing I do. And it’s not limited to blog posts.

We Entrepreneurs Need Wranglers

Not long ago, I was putting together a potential deal between my startup and a Very Large Company. The Very Large Company asked me to send them a sample monetization model. Nothing too complex or concrete, they said, just a spreadsheet that touched on about a half-dozen potential variables and options.

No problem, I said, and since I’ve been doing that kind of thing for a while, an image instantly flashed in my mind of almost exactly what I needed. A couple of rows, a few columns, some basic math and percentages, all wrapped up in a nice “good-better-best” scenario.

Then I sat down and opened up Google Sheets.

I couldn’t help myself. I came up with several intriguing and tempting options that resulted in a number of multi-line equations and color-coding and even a little scripting. The end result was not only a monetization model that worked for this deal, but one that would work for just about any option they wanted.

Hell, you could have used that spreadsheet to show the monetization options for your own product. And I don’t even know you.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com